However, the open source model has brought all kinds of praise to people who use it, especially given that these online stores are completely free, many people around the world manage and develop them, and you can usually find a lot of documentation and blog posts. that will help you along the way.
When studying and choosing any of these e-commerce infrastructures, it is important to determine the type of development experience you are looking for.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
Are you interested in self-service?
Or would you prefer to pay a small fee per month for hosting and all e-commerce features wrapped in one good package?
One of the main decisions is whether you want to use one of the open source e-commerce platforms (free) or more user-friendly, which provides a monthly fee.
For example, you could pay as little as $ 9 a month for an e-commerce platform such as Shopify, which has everything like hosting, website builder, plug-ins, marketing tools and inventory options.
I personally will always be with the option, for example, Shopify over open source , but there are some reasons for considering the latter:
- The open source e-commerce framework is free.
- You often have more creative control over the design and how the store works.
- Open source solutions are often filled with more unique features as they are constantly being developed.
- You can manage things like hosting , plugins and themes that will go into your store.
- Open source systems are created by the community. They are incredibly friendly to developers, and there is excellent support from other developers.
As always, there are several drawbacks for opening a source:
- Open source e-commerce platforms usually require more knowledge of design or coding (but you can always hire a developer).
- You should look around to find the server for hosting yourself.
- All site related operations, such as maintenance, safety, and speed optimization, must be performed by you.
- Website designers are generally less user friendly than those in major e-commerce infrastructures such as Shopify.
- You do not get special support. So, if you’re the one who needs to call or email a support service rep, open source might not be for you.
It’s up to you to decide which type of platform is right for you, but for now let’s talk about the best open source e-commerce platforms on the market.
1. WooCommerce (WordPress)
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so you need to install WordPress (open source) on your host, and then install the WooCommerce plugin on your site.
You just simply:
- Sign in to your WordPress site.
- Go to: Plugins> Add New .
- Search for ‘WooCommerce’ .
- Select Install Now.
- Select Activate and you are ready for the WooCommerce wizard!
It automatically turns any WordPress website into a full-featured online store with inventory management, coupons and product pages.
Advantages of WooCommerce:
- The plugin can be downloaded and installed for free. Many stores do not need anything more than a plugin.
- It connects to all major payment gateways. By default, you get PayPal and Stripe, which are the two most recognized gateways on the market. In addition, you can accept payments through Amazon Pay and PayFast
- With the theme of WooCommerce, you hardly have to do any work other than adding content. You can get the theme from the official WooCommerce store. In addition, you can use a third-party website, such as ThemeForest, which has the largest WooCommerce theme store on the market.
- You can offer coupons and discounts, as well as add several other features using the extension library.
- WooCommerce is a very popular platform, which means that there is fantastic support available. It is worth noting that you should always make sure that you are using the latest version of the plug-in before asking for help.
The WooCommerce Help Center has options 5 that can provide you with the answer you are looking for.
- WooCommerce 101 – You can watch the video material that gives you an explanation regarding the page you are viewing.
- Help and support – here you can find links to documentation, the WordPress.org forum, and the WooCommerce help service where you can submit an application.
- Found a bug? – If you find an error, you can send it to the WordPress team. You will need to explain in detail what you have found and provide screenshots.
- Education – WooCommerce has many partners who provide courses and training for clients.
- Installation Wizard – This wizard takes you back to the beginning and guides you through the process of setting up WooCommerce pages, shipping, taxes, and payments.
Disadvantages of WooCommerce:
- There are many additional costs, such as a WooCommerce theme, additional extensions, hosting, and a domain name. It can be marked as free, however, the topic can cost you more than $ 100 dollars, the domain will be $ 10, and hosting can cost from $ 4 per month to $ 5,000 for corporate sites.
- WooCommerce has several moving parts. At first glance, hosting + WordPress + WooCommerce plugin is required. This can frighten newbies, especially with tasks such as SEO, security, hosting and caching. There is a big learning curve if you are just starting out, so beginners choose something like Shopify
- You will need some technical knowledge and developer skills to make WooCommerce cost-effective. If not, you will have to opt for a choice of WooCommerce “WooExperts”, which offers hourly prices and project prices, which can be expensive.
X-Cart helped create more online stores of 35,000, and in the past few years this figure has grown rapidly. Like all these e-commerce platforms listed, it is free, open source and self-hosted.
X-Cart is often considered one of the fastest open source platforms on the market, and it also has an incredible amount of features so that you can sink your teeth. There is also a free trial for a premium plan that goes for $ 495 (one-time payment).
Advantages of X-Cart:
- It depends on the package with which you go, but you can often get full multi-language and multi-currency support. This is especially good if you work in a corporate store.
- You can integrate your shopping cart with the most reliable payment gateways in the world, such as PayPal and Sage
- It is free and open source, so, as in WooCommerce, there is excellent support for developers. This PHP code means that you can easily add additional integrations manually.
- The most advanced developers will get all the necessary control using X-Cart. It’s quite fun to play with and very scalable. As your store grows, X-Cart can grow with you.
- You can also calm down easily, knowing that X-Cart is fully protected and compatible with PCI.
Disadvantages of X-Cart:
- You do not have access to direct customer support if you do not pay an additional fee. In addition, you just need to rely on X-Carts self-help tools.
- You even have to pay for hosting if you choose one of the paid plans. Again, this can cost as little as $ 5 per month up to several thousand.
- Although the premium plan is only $ 495 for a lifetime, it still looks slightly higher compared to other options. In addition, if you need a multi-vendor plan, and then continue to grow, the price increases significantly
- There is a high probability that you will have to use some kind of manual coding when setting up your store. If you don’t need PHP code, then you’ll have to do development that will be expensive.
3. Zen Cart
The whole reason why Zen Cart was created was for people who do not have a degree of development to create their own online stores.
I would not go so far as to say that you do not need any knowledge in the field of coding, but this is pretty close.
But, I can assure you of this, Zen Cart is more user-friendly than many other open source e-commerce platforms, so it may be worth considering whether you want to expand quickly, but you do not have advanced developer skills.
Advantages of Zen Cart:
- Zen Cart is known as a fairly secure software, so you know that your website and customer information are protected. Zen Cart knows that security is important, and has provided security documentation .
- Zen Cart is also great for expanding the store because of its wide range of features and full customization options. There are modules that developers have already created in Zen Cart, which you can download and add to your store.
- You can send HTML emails directly from your website to existing customers and potential customers.
- The Zen Cart community has been growing strong for over a decade, which means that there is a fantastic experience to help you.
- Zen Cart has several excellent multilingual options if you work in a corporate store and want to sell internationally.
Disadvantages of Zen Cart:
- The platform does not provide any special support. The only way to get support is to hire a third-party specialist.
- Sometimes it can be difficult to upgrade your software, and in the past, customers have complained that they have lost some of their store user settings as a result.
- Despite having a built-in SEO tool, you need to purchase more advanced features that other companies will offer for free, such as site maps and meta tags.
- There are not many add-ons or extensions, and there have been reports of how they communicate with each other. You probably run a few plugins, and sometimes they do not play the ball.
- Templates are far from impressive, but you can still find some made by third parties.
4. Magento open source
Magento is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms with open source, and for good reason.
For starters, he has more options than you can expect. However, this opens up all sorts of opportunities when it comes to marketing for your customers and creating such things as membership plans, recurring payments and discounts.
Are you looking for complete control over the design and functionality of the site?
If the answer is simple, yes, consider Magento Open Source. This is very similar to WordPress, where the community is strong, you can choose from hundreds of thousands of topics, and there are many extensions to get your hands.
Advantages of Magento:
- It’s free and there is a paid version if you want to update and expand your business accordingly.
- You almost never need to look for an extension with Magento, since the list of functions is overwhelming and is available right out of the box. This includes features such as coupons, site maps and bulk import / export, as well as conversion tools such as one-page ordering and order tracking.
- You can send product notifications to customers for automated marketing. This may include price alerts and back in stock messages.
- The platform allows you to create separate multilingual sites that are loaded depending on the location of the user. This is a great opportunity for large or corporate stores.
- You can customize the user interface and admin area, as well as your store, so that it looks unique.
Disadvantages of Magento:
- Magento has many features, but it can also make it clumsy and resource-intensive. Therefore, you may have to allocate a decent amount of money and time to optimize, as this may slow down your site.
- Although you can learn how to use Magento, the main reason you should take this into account is the development skills you have. It is known that large companies come with Magento, because they have access and money to get a developer who knows the development code.
- Like other options, as long as you are on your own regarding customer support
- Magento is very good for corporate clients, which you can see above, so it can be quite expensive if you take into account the costs of topics, hosting and domain.
Compared to other open source platforms, OpenCart is actually quite simple to use and easy. It’s free, and there’s a decent community to contact if you’re having trouble developing your store.
I recommend it for startups, as it does not take too much time to set up a site from scratch.
Due to ease of use, the total cost of building a store usually decreases. For example, you do not need to pay for a special developer, themes are not expensive, and you definitely do not need additional plugins.
Over the past few years, the appearance and user experience has improved significantly and become more user-friendly.
Advantages of OpenCart:
- Startup costs are quite low, downloads are free, and there are some great themes that are also available for free.
- The possibilities are solid, and the large catalog functionality works wonders for order processing. For example, Open Cart offers various sizes, colors, length and height as product options out of the box.
- The average person should be fine with setting up opencart. Not to mention the fact that it does not drain resources, such as Magento, and their training requires much less time than Magento.
- Open Cart offers access to the most well-known payment gateways, as well as to more niche ones for which you can have preferences.
- Do you have several stores or are you planning? You can customize products for display in different stores, as well as offer different prices for each of them. Then you can personalize each store as you wish.
Disadvantages of OpenCart:
- When you look at the list of Magento features versus OpenCart, this is not a comparison. Magento is probably the biggest competitor to OpenCart on this list, but Magento wins by a wide margin in terms of features.
- You will need to add many add-ons for OpenCart to work for you, which means that it can become very expensive.
- Although it is easier for beginners, it means that the settings are also smaller. You can view OpenCart as one of the few open source e-commerce platforms that experienced developers would prefer to avoid.
- Like Zen Cart, deployed updates can cause problems on your site if there are a lot of user elements on it. Errors will always appear as they cannot be tested on every customizable website.
PrestaShop is new to the e-commerce platform, but it has made a name for itself thanks to its ease of use and the beautiful interface it provides. Another thing to consider is that installing a plugin and starting to create your store does not require much experience.
Therefore, starting a small business will be quite easy to get started.
Advantages of PrestaShop:
- PrestaShop has an easy to use interface with easy inventory management and a store maintenance process that everyone can understand. In addition, you can use the PrestaShop live demo before registering so you can try a little
- PrestaShop provides a great interface for creating different websites for different languages and currencies. You can also translate the administrative area of the back office of your site. PrestaShop currently offers 75 different languages.
- This is a fairly easy e-commerce platform, so you don’t need to worry about slowing down your site or working slowly when you create a site on your computer. unlike Magento.
- It has the support of several suppliers, similar to Open Cart, if you want to run several stores.
- PrestaShop may have the best collection of themes in this entire list. On their website, they currently offer 4,500 templates, which ensure that most websites on the platform look different.
Topics can be divided based on a number of categories, including:
- Compatibility – you can search for themes depending on which version of PrestaShop you are using
- Category – find a topic based on your industry
- Style – What is your brand? Do you need a clean, minimalistic website or a baroque site?
- System functionality – does specific functionality matter to you? Do you have a lot of products? Then you may be important megamenu
- developer – do you want to see only themes developed by premium developers? Then you can sort based on how prestigious a software company is.
Disadvantages of PrestaShop:
- PrestaShop is not as robust as other options, such as Magento, so scalability is not exactly there. If necessary, you can expand your range in a large international store. However, it is really suitable for small and medium businesses.
- You do not need to install any additional modules for a regular online store, but most often it seems that you have to pay for some expansion, and they are not cheap.
- The default theme provided does not look as good as other open source software, such as the Storefront option provided by WooCommerce.
- PrestaShop is a little easy in terms of marketing tools. For example, you cannot cross-sell products, which is a criticism that is widely exposed
online store , you have access to a thriving community of developers and users, with a wonderful forum where you can find solutions to your problems and chat with other people. Almost 300,000 online stores are created using osCommerce, so you know that many companies already find this appropriate.
Pricing is obviously a plus, since you do not need to pay a dime for launching an online store. I would also give him better grades for features, online support and ease of use.
Advantages of osCommerce:
- Online support is pretty awesome. Obviously, you will not get direct support, but on the osCommerce forum there are millions of active conversations that you can search for. You also have the opportunity to share your thoughts or questions. Currently more than a million posts have been added to the forum. 1.5.
- As with WordPress, a strong community means that you also have access to many plugins and add-ons. The developers basically distribute them for free, but you will also find some of them that you have to pay for, or somewhere, you may have to update them to get the best features. You simply click on the link below and you can immediately download them to your store.
- One of the great features of osCommerce is that it is easy to open and make more advanced settings. Even less experienced developers can go there and make changes quite easily. In addition, you should have no problems finding and paying a developer to work with osCommerce.
- There are more free features of 7,000 to take advantage of. We regularly talked about how much total costs might accrue to websites, but perhaps osCommerce is one of the cheapest on this list.
Disadvantages of osCommerce:
- The main reason you might think about going with something else, such as Magento, is because osCommerce does not know how well it scales. It is quite possible to make a larger e-commerce site, but I recommend it exclusively for small, medium-sized stores.
- The osCommerce software requires more maintenance than other platforms. This means that you have to spend more time updating the site’s security and working on things like SEO.
- Due to your ability to play around with osCommerce code, it may be more prone to errors and disruptions. You probably don’t want the e-commerce site to ever break, so it’s important to find a great developer who knows how to protect the site. Currently there are only two approved osCommerce developers to help you, which is a bit of a concern.
- Previously there were questions about osCommerce security, and hacking users osCommerce in 2011 proved that there is something to work in this direction
JigoShop is often compared to WooCommerce because of its ease of use and intuitive interface. You can also extend the functionality of the site with a wide range of plug-ins and add-ons, which greatly simplifies the scaling of your site.
Overall, the development of JigoShop has improved over the years, so you will find that JigoShop is quite easy to pick up, even as a beginner. You’ll find a basic toolbar with incredible themes (which are better than most themes from other platforms), and a quick interface when adding any of the products to promotions.
Benefits of JigoShop:
- You may not find an easier to use open source e-commerce platform than this. Besides WooCommerce, this will also be first on my list for beginners or intermediate ones. Jigoshop recognizes this and, like PrestaShop, offers a demo version of both the external and internal interface of the website before downloading.
- You can choose from a large selection of themes, many of which are among the most beautiful themes on the market. The themes are guaranteed a 14-day money back guarantee, and you can also get a 10% discount on your next purchase at the store if you leave a review.
- It is quite easy to edit the code for your site, but your site does not have partners for developing the site, so you will edit the code yourself.
- Integration is abundant, as in WordPress, where you can search the Internet for the right type of add-on, and it returns dozens of solutions. Currently there are 40 free extensions to help you get started.
Disadvantages of JigoShop:
- You do not get any customer support options. You stayed on the forums and blogs that JigoShop provides.
- The initial set of functions is not so much, so you should install some add-ons. As I said, 40 of them are free, which is useful. Unfortunately, there are also no free SEO options that many other open source platforms provide.
- Although the themes look great, it will be difficult to find themes for free. You can find some free solutions, but they are usually watered a little. Therefore, if you go with JigoShop, you should keep the topic of spending in your mind.
- Since JigoShop is currently not particularly popular, there are not many partners on their website. As you can see below, there is only one website hosting option.
9. Trade Drupal
Drupal is one of the most common options when developing any type of website. This is one of WordPress’s closest competitors, as a strong percentage of Internet resources run on Drupal.
Not to mention that you can do almost any type of website with it.
As for Drupal Commerce, this is a separate module that allows you to quickly create your e-commerce website on top of an existing website, and this is one of the best solutions if you plan to expand quickly.
The bonus is that there is a huge community of people behind Drupal, so you can seek support from forums, social pages and blogs.
Advantages of Drupal Commerce:
- Drupal was designed with the idea that only professionals would use it. That’s why if you are a developer, you will feel right at home. Drupal’s original purpose has been maintained for many years, and this is one of the main reasons why it is so strong. There are very strict development standards on the Drupal website that must be followed to ensure high quality products.
- It has built-in caching, so overall speed and performance is much better than other open source platforms, such as Magento.
- Unlike many other free open source solutions, Drupal Commerce has its own built-in security system. It is also updated frequently to ensure that any errors reported by users are corrected.
- The online community is always there to help you on your way. The Drupal website also has an extensive reference guide and a very useful video library.
In the video library of Drupal you can find the following materials:
- Ecommerce basics
- Drupal new webinar release
- Drupal presentations from e-commerce conferences
- Product Tutorials
Disadvantages of Drupal Commerce:
- You will have a difficult time working in the online store if you are new to Drupal Commerce. It’s hard to learn, and most of the community discussion comes from more experienced developers.
- Drupal Commerce sites can become demanding as they often turn into large sites with many components and modifications.
- Drupal Commerce was created by the people behind the ‘Commerce Guys’, and if you need support from them, it’s paid. For site modification, registration and auditing, it starts at $ 580 per month.
- Even if you are an experienced developer, you may find that the interface is complex, and the design recommendations are very strict.
- Drupal Commerce is not able to pay for a host with a low price. You need high power and speed, preferably a VPS or a dedicated server.
10. WP eCommerce
WP Ecommerce is the dwarfed cousin of WooCommerce. They are not related to technology at all, but they are a reliable WordPress plugin that doesn’t receive much the same attention as WooCommerce.
Let me tell you how it works. First, you install WordPress on your hosting server, and then the WP eCommerce plugin.
This turns the usual WordPress toolbar into an e-commerce control center. This way, you can add products, run promotions, create categories and more.
Just like that!
Smaller sites will be fine with the plugin, but you must install paid add-ons for additional functionality.
Benefits of WP ecommerce:
- The plugin supports about a dozen payment gateways, but WP eCommerce provides support if you need to go with a gateway that is not in the system.
- The backend is easy to navigate, and the results of the interface look pretty clean and modern. Moreover, you can easily customize all of this with simple CSS and HTML.
- WP ecommerce offers a robust coupon feature that allows you to use it once, as a percentage or as a hard number. You can also impose restrictions on certain products at a discount.
- You can pay direct customer support.
- SSL is provided out of the box for placing an order in your store.
Disadvantages of WP e-commerce:
- There are not many add-ons, in fact there are only 16 in the store.
- Multilingual tools – everything is in order. Apparently, more advanced multilingual and multi-currency tools will appear in the near future, so I will see how this happens.
- You can pay for premium support that offers instructional videos, but there are a few WordPress reviews that suggest they are not really provided to you. Currently the instructional videos just go to page 404.
- You won’t find almost as many WordPress themes for WP eCommerce as you want for WooCommerce.
- According to the WordPress site, the plugin has not been updated over the last year.
Ubercart is often compared to Drupal Commerce in blog posts.
Drupal Commerce was created by an old Ubercart developer. Therefore, many people claim that Ubercart is the best because it is the original and has more features to play, while others claim that Drupal Commerce is a more advanced version of Ubercart.
This is what you can usually find when an employee leaves his company to create his own and launch a competition.
But there are significant differences, so it is very important to find the one that best suits your business. It would be a pain to move from one to another after the wrong choice.
In short, both are easy to configure, but Drupal Commerce is more focused on complex settings. Most of the differences can be found in extensions and add-ons, since some extensions are simply not available in each library.
That is why it is important to investigate which add-ons are needed for your company before pressing a trigger on an e-commerce platform like this.
Advantages of Ubercart:
- Registering activity in Ubercart is a fantastic way to find order statuses no matter where the customer is in the buying process.
- Although both Ubercart and Drupal Commerce are developer friendly, I would say that Ubercart is better for less experienced users.
- It’s simple enough to work well for small stores, but you have room to expand.
- There are some fantastic lessons on how to perform frequently asked actions. Just click on them and he will click on the link to their YouTube channel.
- Payment modules and delivery options are fully packaged in an open source e-commerce platform. Therefore, you do not need to think much about it at startup.
Disadvantages of Ubercart:
- Customization controls are less effective in Ubercart than Drupal Commerce. This may be useful for new developers, but some more advanced users may want more.
- Although you can scale up to support a variety of products and product options, Drupal Commerce is definitely more suitable for a large online store.
- Ubercart advertises a demo version of its platform, however, when you click this link, the website does not exist
- As you can see in the screenshot above, Ubercart has not been updated since February 2018, that is, almost a year. Open source platforms create bugs and should be updated more regularly.
- SKUs are not as cut and dry as competitors, so users may have problems with weight calculations for delivery.
Is an open source e-commerce platform suitable for you?
I just want you to know that there are many other open source programs that I did not mention.
The best part – each of them is free and constantly evolving. This is a huge plus if you want to save some money in the short term and easily scale in the long term.
Although open source e-commerce platforms have their advantages, you should seriously consider a non-open source solution, such as Shopify , BigCommerce or Volusion , with these platforms you only pay a small monthly fee, you do not need to support your site so much or look for hosting and always get special customer support.
In my opinion, this type of e-commerce framework is designed to quickly scale companies that are going to hire a developer (or development team) to run the entire website. But if you do not have money for this type of employee, you better expand something like Shopify.
If you have any questions about this, please let me know in the comments below.